By on March 17, 2015

neverlst

Frequent renters know and loathe the Hertz “AlwaysLost” aftermarket nav system for its unique combination of Commodore-VIC-20-esque interface and vague indifference to actual location. It’s best to think of the little black box as the Jar-Jar Binks of the rental-car business; sometimes it forgets that entire blocks of major city of streets exist, sometimes it interprets your freeway drive as a series of excursions to the surface streets beneath which causes a Tourette’s-like existential scream of continuously changing directions, and sometimes it’s just plain lost. But just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the hapless Hertz customer, it turns out that the box might also be spying on you.

The newest NeverLost has a camera — you can see it in the publicity shot above — but Hertz claims that the camera isn’t turned on. Moreover, the company claims that they don’t know how to turn it on and have no plans to do so, and that any internal company videos purporting to show the camera working are fake. Approximately one in eight Hertz vehicles now has the camera.

In light of recent scandals such as the one where a rent-to-own company stole Social Security Numbers and took photos of users having sex there’s a definite concern that this Hertz “feature” could be used to, ah, compromise the, ah, privacy… oh, who cares, obviously the sole purpose of this device is to capture images of people getting “road head” and doing various other unsavory things in the rental cars. Given that the entire unspoken purpose of the Hertz “Dream Car Garage” or whatever it’s called is to rent cars to 43-year-old men who will then convince 23-year-old women to blow them in the parking lot of an Arby’s before the concert starts, which is a scenario that I just made up out of whole cloth and has nothing to do with any recent “Hertz Dream Car Garage” rentals I might or might not have booked… well, who cares, right? What I personally don’t want is for the company to create a so-called “supercut” of me scratching my personal equipment right after shaving it because that’s what the kids expect to see nowadays.

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55 Comments on “I Always Feel Like, Somebody (At Hertz) Is Watching Me...”


  • avatar
    CobraJet

    Mixed images in my head!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Tape.

    Seriously. Most of these devices don’t have a hardware off switch; the only real solution is tape.

    As someone who owns _and still uses_ a C=64, though, I wouldn’t call the interface VIC-20 esque. That’s really rather besmirching the VIC.

  • avatar

    Well then.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Then. Don’t. Rent. From. Hertz.

    Seriously, this is one of those places where the mythical “free market” can work. There are plenty of rental car options out there. If enough people stop using Hertz, those units will disappear. Seriously, who is going to rely on some rental company’s GPS? Aside from the rental company?

  • avatar
    Counterpoint

    What’s the point of Hertz NeverLost anymore? It sort of made sense 10 years ago but now everyone who can afford to rent a car already has a smartphone with navigation.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Value-add.

      There’s a thing in marketing, especially among sales & marketing execs that aren’t told “No” enough, that anything “value-add” is automatically a success.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        “Value add” and “revenue streams” are just buzzwords used for the benefit of those sales & marketing execs.

        • 0 avatar
          OneAlpha

          You know you’re being scammed when people try to sell you something based on how much “value” it gives you.

        • 0 avatar
          LeMansteve

          “Value-added” isn’t just a buzzword, nor is it limited to sales & marketing. It simply describes a feature or service the customer is willing to pay for. Hertz may have surveyed their customers and asked if they would pay extra for built-in nav.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            I’ve had a couple of those boxes, and I didn’t pay extra for them, and wouldn’t. They were in the way of the radio controls. You handle them the way you handle an ugly woman with a hot body: put a paper bag on them. I assume they’ll eventually integrate them with the touch screens. Then I’ll have to travel with a roll of duct tape and bring my own radio.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          It adds NO value for me, it only subtracts value from my wallet. So I have Waze on my iPhone, its way move valuable.

          FYI I’m a Hertz Gold Member for the record.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            They only charge you for it if you opt for it when you make a reservation. If you get upgraded to a car with it or it is all they have available, it’s free.

            -Hertz President’s Circle member.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      “everyone who can afford to rent a car already has a smartphone with navigation”

      Canadians and international travelers. This changed a bit with $5 a day unlimited roaming data packages, but before, using Google Maps on a long drive in the States would probably cost me over $100 a day with data roaming. The predownload range on GM is only a 50 mile circle and most other SD card based options kinda sucked.

      • 0 avatar
        Counterpoint

        There are myriad other Android navigation apps which work without a data connection and allow downloading maps in advance. Skobbler, Here, Sygic, etc. Any of them work better than Hertz NeverLost (I am a Hertz Gold member). I’ve used them when driving outside cell coverage and in foreign countries.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Or just do what I have done for a decade, have a TomTom in your travel bag. Though lately for just running around town I have been using GoogleMaps on my phone. I have tried Waze and mostly find it annoying.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Well, the camera is most likely of the same quality as the navigation, so it will cut the head off…
    Also, there are now 102 uses for freshly used chewing gum.
    On a more serious note, it is possible the camera is a deterrent. Lets face it, I just don’t think large rental companies care enough and they certainly aren’t going to pay someone to watch hours of footage, just to catch a few acts, for witch, they cannot possibly get any return on investment.
    If it means the cars are a bit, ahem, cleaner, I would be OK with that to.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    “…but Hertz claims that the camera isn’t turned on.”

    And Bill Clinton didn’t inhale, either.

    • 0 avatar

      Bill Clinton may not have inhaled. In college, around dope-smoking friends, I didn’t want to smoke, but I didn’t want to stand out as avoiding it, so I didn’t inhale.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      My best friend in undergrad was a massive pothead, my roommate was one too though not as bad as he was and many other people too and I never smoked pot once or did any other kind of drugs so what Clinton said was more than plausible. Just because you are friends or in a room with people that are doing certain things does not mean that you have to. Everyone is not a follower.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “The newest NeverLost has a camera — you can see it in the publicity shot above — but Hertz claims that the camera isn’t turned on. Moreover, the company claims that they don’t know how to turn it on and have no plans to do so”

    Yeah, right.

    If I come across one of those things, I’ll cover it with my hat. A fedora covers a lot of ground, or at least a baseball cap.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Unless your name begins with Frank and ends Sinatra, you should not be wearing a fedora.

      Fedoras are indicative of Park Slope/Sunset Park d-bags selling heritage mayonnaise and wearing suspenders whilst applying moostashe wax. Please don’t offer them solidarity via common haberdashery.

      • 0 avatar
        slow kills

        No, you’re thinking of stingy-brimmed pork pie hats.
        I would encourage the black electrical tape coverage, and leaving it there for future users. Ever tape over the remote sensor on a TV? Nobody ever notices what was done.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        As an at-least-weekly wearer of one, I must say a fedora can and should be worn by any man as long as it’s with the proper outfit (read: a business suit, or a leather jacket, button-down and slacks with boots or leather shoes if you wanna go the Indy route).

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          I have two Stetson Sovereigns. I only wear them if I have a tie & jacket, which is at least twice a week. Also, a nice tweed hat to match a tweed sports jacket.

          Daily, I wear a more casual brown fedora with either my leather bomber jacket or my lighter brown jacket. In warm weather, I wear a Panama fedora. No cheap hats here.

          Dad wore hats and I wear hats daily and love ’em. Wifey does too.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I wish I could afford more than one nice fur felt hat. Maybe if I stopped buying all those ’90s and early ’00s LEGO sets…

            At least I have a proper Panama for when it gets nicer.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            I still stand by my earlier statement, but if you’re going to wear one of the things, it’d better be with a proper suit and/or an overcoat. For the panama, a white suit.

            Don’t mix business with leather.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve worn a Stetson fedora since before most hipsters were born.

        I currently still have my original Stetson Sovereign in black that I bought many years ago. People sometimes call me “rabbi” but my Sovereign has a brim about 3″ narrower and a crown about 1.5″ shorter than Borsalinos I see in my neighborhood. It’s been cleaned and blocked at least a couple of times and last time it was in the shop at Henry the Hatter, I had them replace the lining. Probably should have replaced the band too, but since I needed something to wear and since my Sovereign was getting old, I bought a brand new one just like it and a Sterling by Selentino in grey. The Selentino was made in the Czech Republic and it’s a little lighter weight than the Stetson so it’s a bit more comfortable in hot weather.

        Just because I wear a fedora, have a mechanical watch on my wrist, have a mustache and beard and sometimes wear suspenders to keep my pants up doesn’t make me a hipster, just an old Jew.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The only people in 2015 that can pull off a fedora without looking hokey are time travelers, people over 60, and those that are otherwise ridiculously (like top 5%) attractive.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        Sinatra typically wore a Trilby, not a Fedora.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      A few years ago, I bought a nice Stormy Kromer, blue/black with the “stealth” ear flaps – great for winter.

      After the second “Elmer Fudd” reference, I stopped wearing it. :-(

  • avatar

    Yeah. The company that routinely runs its fleet to 50,000 miles before asking clean book at the auction is worried about the upkeep and maintenance of its cars. Right.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I think they reserve them for young, or young-looking males traveling alone, and other unsavory-looking types (such as beards, nose rings, forehead tatoos), all of whom buy the full insurance package.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Moreover, the company claims that they don’t know how to turn it on and have no plans to do so, and that any internal company videos purporting to show the camera working are fake.”

    So we made internal-to-our-company-not-meant-for-public-consumption videos, but they were fake. Furthermore we don’t even know how to turn on a camera we put in our own product shown in said fake videos.

    Riiiight.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Wait, Hertz is spending money on new EverLost hardware and software?

    I had always ASS-U-MED that these prehistoric GPS were finding their way continuously in rental cars by being removed from retiring Impala over there, and put in new Impala over there.

    I had no idea there were actively spending money on the hardware and software platform.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      A brand new version started showing up about a year ago. Unlike the old version, it does not seem to have an off switch. This annoys me to no end.

      The new version does seem to actually navigate much better than the old one, though about the only reason I ever use them is to return to out of the way car rental returns.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    My mom had one of these in her rental Sentra (which was a POS by the way). The nav unit with non-functional camera was mounted on the passenger-side of the dash, facing the back seat. I don’t believe it would capture any significant amount of useful information that isn’t already available.

    Is Hertz looking to fine people who smoke, eat or make a mess in the car? Maybe. Are crimes committed at a high rate with rental cars, and is Hertz secretly using cameras to help provide local police evidence in case of a crime? Maybe. Even if the camera works, are they going to hire people to review every minute of footage? I really don’t think so.

    Maybe it’s a standard unit that Hertz got a volume discount on, even though they didn’t need the camera.

    At the end of the day, if you don’t like it you can go to the other guy. I know I would.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Rentals will someday all have similar devices. They’ll serve as a black box. Where you went. How you drove. If the device detects hooning, it’ll automatically turn on the camera. If it detects the tell-tale signs of DUI, it’ll turn on the camera (and coincidentally, I’ve heard being on the receiving end of road head can cause one to drive as if they were impaired).

    These devices will detect if someone not on the rental agreement is behind the wheel. Who is behind the wheel in the case of an accident. Who is driving when the car was speeding, or blowing a toll. If the vehicle was driven outside state lines (if such a restriction is present on the rental agreement). And of course, help recover the vehicle in the case of theft.

    The only value added is the ability of the rental car company to assign blame, levy fines if conditions of the rental agreement are not adhered to on the part of the renter (…the agreement, Mr Baruth, expressly states that this vehicle is not to be used on a race track, and yet, the GPS has logged you doing 20 laps of the Palm Beach International Raceway), and have recorded evidence (both in the car’s data, and visually via the camera) should litigation become necessary (…Mr Baruth, not only were you racing our car, the woman in the passenger seat appears to be vigorously shifting for you, which is odd, as the vehicle has an automatic transmission).

  • avatar
    ajla

    … “the entire unspoken purpose of the Hertz ‘Dream Car Garage’ or whatever it’s called is to rent cars to 43-year-old men who will then convince 23-year-old women to blow them in the parking lot of an Arby’s before the concert starts”

    So, a friend of mine wants to know what the success rate is here…

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    This is why if you need NAV you rent a car that has nav built in. I know that is tough. I have rented premium cars from Avis and National that had the factory nav enabled. a Ford Flex from National and a CTS from Avis I believe, (actually I grabbed the DVD from a bundle in the trunk of the CTS and inserted it to make the system operational, take that AVIS), Why cant the rental car folk just order nav on more cars. Hertz could do that and get rid of always lost.

    I rented a Chrysler 300 a few years back in Puerto Rico and Never Found became confused on the back roads from San Juan to Ponce. Not a good feeling for a guy with his family in unfamiliar territory. Lucky for me the folks in Puerto Rico were gracious and helped us, even with my broken Spanish. Takeaway, equip more rentals with factory navigation!

    BTW, every Silvercar Audi has nav with Google traffic and they ROCK!

    I do have a iphone with WAZE bit I HATE holding the phone when I drive!

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…scratching my personal equipment right after shaving it because that’s what the kids expect to see nowadays….”

    A little baby powder after shaving helps. Also keeps the junk dry and comfy all day.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…The newest NeverLost has a camera…”

    You can solve the problem with a small, strategically placed piece of black electrical tape.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    I am more worried about hidden audio devices than video.

  • avatar
    torrnado

    quick/easy fix: black electrical tape!

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